Friday, May 06, 2005

Inferno 2 Episode 9: Mean Girls

Previously on Inferno II: The Bad Ass girls took turns picking on Tonya. The Good Guys won Zip Up, upping their bank account to $30,000. Jodi’s plan to face Veronica in the Inferno backfired, as the Verantula defeated her. Veronica: “For all you Good Guys out there that think you guys finish first, it ain’t gonna happen this time. It ain’t gonna happen.” This is imposed over Jodi sobbing. I never liked Jodi that much, but I’m hoping she doles out some payback on the more shrilly Bad Asses down the line.

Night. Some of the guys from are yelling at the kitchen table and acting like maniacs. Dan interviews that everybody is crazy because they’re under stress over possibly leaving. Mike bites into a small pepper, and proceeds to scream and act like a tool. Nothing of note here, except that the “exclusive” clip on has more of the guys’ shennigans. I guess the alcohol still flows freely on this show.

In another room, Dan looks visibly annoyed. He talks to Abram about people saying that Mike is in alliance with him, then narrows down “people” to “Tina,” who has conspiracy theories about everybody. “Tina’s full of crap,” Dan snots in an interview. “Tina just wants to act like she knows what’s going on at all times, but she talks a lot of nonsense.” Not like he would know about talking nonsense, of course. Abram brings up Tina thinking he was in an alliance with Mike, even though he voted for him twice. Abram adds that he doesn’t want to vote for Mike anymore, since they’re friends.

The camera pans up one floor, as we see Brad, Landon and Mike. Brad doesn’t think the Bad Asses will gun for Mike this time, because they haven’t gotten him into an Inferno. Mike interviews that he feels like he’s going in, and he doesn’t understand why. “I’m wondering if the other team is scared of Landon,” he adds, “but if they’re scared of Landon, why aren’t they scared of me? Is this something personal against me?”

Clue time! Shavonda reads off the sponsor name before going into the instructions: meet Dave at 1 p.m. at the Montagna El Caracoal, and wear team colors and sneakers.

New day. A rooster crows. It’s breakfast time, and Tonya interviews that everybody is talking about their lives, and she doesn’t want anybody to ask her about hers. Jamie doesn’t get the hint, asking Tonya if she’s closer to her parents. Tonya goes into how she grew up in various foster homes. Jamie tells us that she can see how Tonya’s personality developed with her adolescent issues. “She’s really just looking for some people who respect her,” Jamie adds, “and treat her like a friend.” Awwwwww. Looks like Jamie forgot where she was for a few minutes. What a rookie mistake.

Later, the Bad Ass girls lay around. Veronica: “You’re so happy you’re on our team.” She ads that she loves how Tonya gets upset. Rachel smirks. Why, Jodi? Why couldn’t you take out the trash last week? “This girls are doing a good job,” Tonya interviews. “Veronica, Tina and Rachel, they’re trying to break me down, and they’re doing a pretty good job.” Perhaps if you were to dump their precious belongings in the pool, they might leave the show. I’m just sayin’.

Mission site. This week, we have a crane holding up a number of platforms. Jamie dubs it a “King Kong structure.” Dave welcomes everybody to today’s mission: Never Ending Climb. Julie immediately interviews that she hates heights. Right, how could I forgot the time she kept sobbing in terror while yanking Veronica’s harness last year? Wait, that didn’t happen. “Today, I just don’t care,” she adds. “My head is in the right place, but my heart just isn’t there. My heart is with my husband!” My condolences to the guy. Dave starts the exposition: each team runs their own hear. Time starts when Dave blows his airhorn, and stops when they’ve collected forty “tribal tokens” scattered throughout the course. Each player must retrieve five tokens apiece. Since the Good Guys have seven players, one of them has to go twice. There can only be one player on the structure at a time, and the player exits by getting lowered from the course by a wire. If a player hits the ground without five tokens, that person has to wait sixty seconds before going back up. If a player can’t go through with it, the team gets a five minute penalty. The team with the quickest time gets $10,000 for their bank account.

Both teams plot strategy. Julie walks away from her group. Dan plots his course, but Veronica brings up hm being scared of heights. She would be more comfortable with him not going all the way up, but he’s willing to do it. Tina tells him that it should be a team decision. Coming from Tina, this sounds reasonable. For Dan, it’s a reason for him to snipe about her not telling him what he can do. He punctuates that with a hand near her face, ending the conversation. “Today is not the day for me listen to yelling women,” he interviews. “We’ve let them boss us around, we’ve let them get out in front and prove themselves. But enough is enough!” Normally, I’d love somebody giving those ladies the business, especially Rachel and Veronica. But I kindasorta like Tina, and he’s channeling Coby bitching about the women of Koror. Shut it, Renzi.

Veronica gets harnessed up. Abram interviews that the team finally decided on an order, and Veronica will go first. Dave blows his airhorn, starting the heat. Veronica climbs up the ladder and clears the first platform. Two minutes pass as she ascends on another ladder. She straddles a tube (something she has demonstrated prowess performing in the past), grabs some tokens, and descends. As three minutes pass, she starts dumping tokens into the bowl, but some of them are tangled up on her cord. Time: 3:30. Shavonda smiles in her interview about how the clock is ticking. Veronica: “GOD DAMN YOU!” After seven Challenges, you’d think she’d be a little calmer.

Back from commercials, Veronica finally gets the tokens detached at 3:47. She interviews that this was not the way to star the competition, and her team needs to make up lost time. Tina rushes up the ladder, grabs tokens from a lower level, and dumps them off (4:16). Rachel climbs the rope ladder and takes her sweet time getting on a platform. Once again: most overrated Challenger ever. She shimmies on the platform and get her tokens (8:23). Dan gets his tokens and drops off (13:09).

Tonya begins her climb. Tina interviews that Tonya talks about having a rock-climbing wall in her backyard. Tonya lifts herself onto the tube. Veronica: “Push yourself, Tonya! You can do it faster!” Bet that’s the first time she’s said that to anybody. Time: 13:39. Tonya gripes about Veronica in an interview, adding, “Can you really disrespect somebody that much?” Yes, she can. Just ask Katie. The Bad Asses urge Tonya on, as she climbs the rope ladder (14:30) Background music: “What more do you want from me?” She gets her tokens and drops off. Veronica: “Oh my God, she’s a nightmare.” Once again: why, Jodi? Tonya drops her tokens off at 15:49, telling CT that she didn’t think she was slow. He figures they have to make up time.

Tonya walks up to Veronica, asking how she did. Veronica turns, looks at Tonya, and then walks away. Rude! “I have had enough,” Tonya interviews, as we see Tina whispering something to Veronica. “I just did really well, and this is the way you guys are gonna treat me?” Girl, this is your fourth Challenge, and Veronica has been in all of them. What the heck did you expect? By the way, Tonya is wearing a “Switch Hitter” t-shirt, which is sold by Veronica and Rachel. Nice to complain about somebody when you’re wearing her wares.

CT runs up and gets his tokens (19:55). Abram gets his tokens and yells his head off on the way down (23:31). Derrick runs up the levels, but he slips on the tube. As he hangs on, Abram yells for him to pull himself back up. But Derrick slips off, landing at 25:25. He rushes to the ladder, only to be reminded of the mandatory wait period.

On the sidelines, Tonya admits to having problems on the tube. Unfortunately, she tells this to the Good Guys, giving Tina and Veronica a reason to yell at her some more. Tonya explains that Rachel had been talking about it. Rachel: “Don’t bring me into this, please.”

Dave clears Derrick to get back on the course (26:28). He climbs and manages to clear the tube, finishing the run at 31:37. He interviews about being disappointed in messing up his team. Veronica interviews that the other team can mess things up.

The Good Guys plot strategy, and Julie looks up in dread. Mike asks her if she can climb the ladders. She whimpers about her fear of heights, but she’ll do it. Landon interviews that the team has decided who goes wear by “level of fear,” that Brad and Mike will hit the highest level, and he will go up twice.

Landon starts things off quickly, flying through the course and dumping his tokens at 3:10. Mike goes up and climbs, but struggles on the tube. Tina urges him to fall, but he manages to hit the highest level. He then falls off, hitting a lower platform hard. He doesn’t crotch himself, but it does look painful. Dan laughs really hard, while Jamie breaks out a heartfelt “Poor Miz!” in an interview. Mike interviews that he had a grip on his tokens, so there’s no penalty assessed (8:36).

Brad makes his trip (12:50). Jamie climbs the ladder and straddles the tube. Cut to Julie rubbing her eyes...and Jamie is right behind her. Cut back to Jamie on the course. Dear Lord, she’s a teleporter! She finishes at 17:43. We get about two seconds of Darrell running, since he doesn’t cry about his fear of heights (20:08). Shavonda starts her run. “This does not look fun to me,” Julie whines in an interview. “Call me crazy, a lot of people would kill to do this, but right now, I like to keep my feet on the ground.” Shavonda keeps running. Mike interviews that the team will get a five minute penalty if Julie can’t perform. Shavonda hits the ground and dumps her tokens (21:09).

It’s time for Julie to go up. She has no problem with the first ladder and platform, but struggles on the rope ladder. “I hate playing these friggin’ monkey games!” she grunts on the way up. “I’m friggin’ not looking down, you bastards!” Closed captioning is my best friend. Rachel: “I don’t know what was coming out of Julie’s mouth while she was climbing, but I think there were some curse words coming out!” Julie: “Come on, God, help me get this friggin’ stupid thing done!” I might be biased, but Melissa whined a lot less in her missions than Julie right now. The Good Guys root her on. Julie is still griping and muttering “You friggin’ devil!” She finally gets to the ground and dumps her tokens (23:56). As Landon starts his second run, the other Good Guys have to essentially pat Julie on the head and tell her that she did good. Meanwhile, Landon manages to finish the course.

Dave goes over the times. The Bad Asses logged in a time of 31:37. The Good Guys: 27:17. Dave awards the $10,000 check to the Good Guys, upping their bank account to $40,000. The check is picked up by Jamie, who is wearing a “Future MILF” t-shirt. Oh, Jamie. Don’t make me hate you. Mike: “Now we’re on a roll. Hoo-rah, baby!” Dave announces that it’s time for the teams to make their selections for the Inferno. This week, it’s men only.

Tonya walks off on her own. “This situation is just so close to home for me,” she interviews, as we see the unholy trio together, “that it’s not even about the Challenge. It hurts my feelings, and I want to tell them where to go and how to get there.” Honey, they probably already know how to get there. Dan comes up to Tonya, trying to comfort her. She goes on about how she’s tired of the mean girls, and that they didn’t tell her she did a good job. Dan notes that they pick on her because she gets upset about it. “We don’t have to be friends,” he tells her. “We have to be teammates. Write in your journal, listen to music, and ignore them.” Tonya interviews that Dan has given her confidence to stick up for herself. She adds, “I’m done trying to befriend those girls.” You would think Dan would be gaining sympathy points with me, right?

Good Guys Deliberation Meeting. After a brief pillow fight, the players get down to business. Landon thinks Abram or CT should be picked. Mike notes that CT has won the most Aztec Lifeshields. Julie: “I think Abram is histrionic, narcissistic, and a little bit loopy.” Really, Julie? Was this before or after you straddled him in the pool? I’m not here, go to the second interview segment. She adds that she beat Abram in two missions, and he would be caught off-guard. The others agree with the choice.

Bad Asses Deliberation Meeting. CT can’t help but vote for Mike. Abram wants Landon because he’s sick of voting for Mike. Dan doesn’t want to vote for Landon or Mike, and he doesn’t think it’s fair to keep voting for Mike. Tina: “Why are we talking about fair, guys? This is money.” Once again, the least evil of the three stepsisters brings up a valid point, and the other two agree with her. But Dan is not hearing this. No, he goes into his schoolmarm voice with clenched teeth, telling the girls not to raise their voices about this, adding, “If you don’t like it, you can shove it.” Tina puts her head back. It’s not like she’s been served. Rather, she’s probably amazed that Dan’s being this big of an ass. Dan goes on, saying that there are three other people to vote for, all of whom are more threatening than Mike. In Dan’s mind, people have it out for Mike because of his personality. I think “The Miz” is a major league tool, but he’s not in the same league as folks like Puck or Beth. I just figure the team keeps gunning for Mike in order to make him snap.

Dan continues bitching. “I’m tired of the way this game has gone,” he snipes, pointing a finger. “I’m tired of the way you snap at Tonya all the time. I’m tired of the way that we scream at each other all the time. I’m tired of the bullshit.” Sounds like Dan needs a nap, he’s that tired. And by jumping up in Tonya’s defense, he’s made her a bigger target. Nice going, Renzi. Why not pour steak sauce on her and lower her into a lion’s den? “This is supposed to be a game. There’s more important things than money. So let’s pull our heads out of the gutter.” Believe it or not, this is his third Challenge, and he doesn’t get the premise. Tina manages to bounce back, telling him to shut his mouth when the team has to choose a woman. Dan snipes that it’s no problem. Tina “Thank you.” Dan: “You’re welcome!” And my ex-boss wondered why my recaps were so negative.

It’s nomination time! Dave turns to the Bad Asses first. CT goes on about how the team wanted to “change it up a little bit”...then announces that they picked Mike. Ha! Abram and Dan’s opinion meant squat! Mike looks slightly amused by this. He announces that it’s going to be a rematch from The Gauntlet between his and Abram. We flash back to that episode, where Mike dumped Abram into the water in record time. Abram smiles, probably flashing back to the threesome he had with Rachel and Veronica afterwards. He interviews that he wanted to be with Mike at the end, but he’s willing to send him home. Dave pronounces the Inferno to be “a real slinger.” Huh? The boys put their figurines in the Mininferno. Mike questions why he keeps getting picked, and he plans on either winning the Lifeshield or beating Abram.

Tonya is in the hot tub, telling her female teammates that they’re crossing a line. Rachel insists nobody is coming down on her, saying that it’s only a big issue because Tonya makes it that way. Tonya claims she is tired of them ganging up on her. Tina and Veronica: “We’re not ganging up on you.” In perfect unison, I swear. Veronica: “You must have like a childhood complex about people ganging up on you.” Does Veronica have a psychology degree? Or any degree, for that matter? Tonya starts to rage, saying that the other team told her she did good on the course. Veronica laughs at this. “Tonya is trying to play victim,” she interviews. “Honestly, I think it’s laughable that she’s this upset.” Tonya says she wants to prove she can do what the others can. Veronica snipes that Tonya had her chances. “I’m done with you screwing with me,” Tonya interviews. “Kiss my ass.” She walks away, insisting she’s over them. Rachel stifles a laugh, while Tina lets hers go. Tonya yells that she can still hear them. Tina: “She really has problems.” Rachel: “She is a walking time bomb.” They laugh some more about Tonya’s fragile self-esteem. The girls walk off. For some reason, Tonya gets back on camera. Tina asks why she’s following them. Tonya asks if they have anything to say. They just snicker. “Stupid bitches,” Tonya mutters. Fade to credits.

I’m not entirely in Tonya’s camp. She has basically degraded herself as a whipping girl for the other girls. While dumping Beth’s clothes in the pool was cathartic and highly amusing, it was also a bush league move, and that made her a big joke like the rest of her teammates. Still, I believe there’s something worth saving in the wreckage. Rachel and Veronica? They’re beyond hope. It’s enough to make me hope that Emily would stop by, swinging her bloody axe. Tina amuses me, but she does herself no favors in allying herself with the gruesome twosome. She does get points by going up against Dan, who has devolved into a total waste in such a short time. If the Good Guys don’t buy a clue and target him for elimination, I’m going to be very upset. Getting back to the girls...just for the hell of it, I logged the starting and finishing times of each Bad Ass on the Never Ending Climb, then calculated total times. Here’s what I got:

3:47 Veronica
0:31 Tina
4:06 Rachel
4:45 Dan
2:40 Tonya
4:06 CT
3:36 Abram
8:06 Derrick

In other words, Tonya’s “nightmare” run was better than Rachel and Veronica’s efforts. Beth’s departure might have guaranteed Inferno dates for Rachel and Tonya. In the deepest recesses of my cold heart, I want Tonya to win and stay on. If she gets a share of the big cash, she can pay her debts and get on with her life. Right now, she’s Prometheus, and the girls are the vultures that gnaw on her liver. The chains that keep her in place are made of her inability to win in the end. I want her to be set free, even if Veronica ends up getting handsomely rewarded for the umpteenth time.

We don’t get highlights for next week’s episode. Instead, we’re treated to stuff from the second half of this season. The players drive antique cars, slamming on the brakes and breaking fancy glasses while stopping. A pair of players bungee together. There’s something with boats and fake horses. Abram: “This is one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in a very sick and very wrong way.”

Inferno shots. One guy tries to get a ball into a cannister, while his opponent blocks him. Didn’t we see that on American Gladiators? Landon and Derrick fight outside. Two girls try and grab stickers that are stuck on each other’s bodies. One of these girls is blonde. I’m saying this right now: a Rachel/Julie Inferno might kill me.

Hey, remember Darrell? There he is on the second floor of the Inferno. “I’ll knock your bitch ass out! Send me tonight, little poodle!” Honestly, I missed his random quotes. Abram snipes at somebody, telling that person to go into the Inferno and go home. Tina: “Lovely. You’re very vindictive. You’re a little bitch.” A guy drive a mini-scooter on a beam, but falls into the water. Brad interviews that the game is crazy and dramatic, as we see Tonya and Tina buried up to their necks in sand. Brad: “It’s just way more intensified.” Cut to him going nuts in a car.

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